In Hayden Fulwood’s case, it helped him win a national championship.
Fulwood won his Teenage II 198 pounds Class at the USAPL Raw National Powerlifting meet in Killeen, Texas.
In the process, Fulwood set four national meet records with a squat of 336 pounds, a bench press of 236 pounds, deadlift of 429.9 pounds and total weight lifted 1,001.9 pounds.
Fulwood said he pleased with the results and never thought he would perform that well.
“It was overwhelming really,” Fulwood said. “I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did, but I guess I have to give God the glory for what he let me do.”
Fulwood played football for Victory Christian until an injury forced him to consider weightlifting.
“I was playing football for a while, and I tore my ACL a couple of times and then I put on a little weight,” Fulwood said. “I got back in the gym and started working out with one of my buddies, Austin Gauldin. He came and competed with me. He’s the one who first introduced me to the sport.”
Fulwood trains at the Cross Strength gym in Lincoln. The gym is operated by Eureka Baptist church whose preacher, Jason Grissom, is Fulwood’s coach.
“He’s a big help,” Fulwood said. “He just picks up on a lot of the systems and looks up workout routines. He calculates a lot of our weight and gets us mentally prepared as well.”
Grissom said that as a coach, the results of the meet were very encouraging.
“I just try to tell these guys to go in and do the work,” Grissom said. “Day in and day out, I just want them to come into the gym and do their best. The competition is training just as hard.”
The national champion said his training is for the most part consistent. He said the routine may change every now and then, but it’s mostly a lot of heavy weight.
At the meet, Fulwood lifted nine different times. Each competitor is allowed three attempts at squats, bench presses and deadlifts.
He said the meets are set up differently depending on the organizers.
“For the most part, you mail in your registration, and then you show up and weigh in,” Fulwood said. “I weighed-in the day before at nationals.”
That extra time allowed him to get focused before the meet. He said he doesn’t have any routines or good luck charms when he lifts; he just tries to sit down and get focused.
Grissom said he has been training the pair since March for this particular meet and feels all the hard work paid off for his athletes.
“We have a mantra we train with which is ‘Leave No Doubt,’” Grissom said. “They try to hit everything they have because all they can control is themselves, and they do that.”
The sport can be dangerous when safety precautions are not in place. Many competitors drop weight on themselves, causing serious injuries.
Fulwood said the national meet was well prepared for such accidents.
“You’re surrounded by spotters, so if you were to go down, they’re going to grab the weight real quick,” Fulwood said. “On bench press, they’ve got safety bars, and they make sure before you get your rack type in that they get the safety bar will catch it if it goes toward your neck.”
Fulwood doesn’t have much time to wind down after the Texas meet, saying he hopes to continue in the sport and get his strength up.
“I’m getting bumped up to another age class here soon, so I have to get stronger so I can keep competing,” Fulwood said.
Friend and fellow lifter Gauldin competed in the meet as well.
He lifted in the Teenage II class 165 pounds. He finished runner-up in his category and had lifts of 319.7 pounds for squats, 242.5 pounds for bench press and 393.3 pounds for deadlifts. He totaled 955.5 pounds lifted at the national competition.
Grissom said even though Gauldin was out-lifted at the competition, he was a proud coach.
“There’s no doubt the effort was there,” Grissom said. “Sometimes that just happens. These guys are great to coach, and I get so much joy out of watching them.”